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CMS urged to work with Congress to address HRRP concerns

June 11, 2014

A bipartisan group of 34 House members yesterday urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to work with Congress to ensure that Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program is not having a negative impact on hospitals that serve low-income seniors and people with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. “The current penalty methodology used in the HRRP has created an unintended consequence for hospitals that service our most vulnerable population – dual-eligible beneficiaries,” they told Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a letter initiated by Rep. James Renacci (R-OH), citing studies that found the program’s readmission rates are tied more to community factors than hospital quality and penalize hospitals that care for the sickest and poorest Americans. Noting that the payment penalty is set to increase to 3% from 2%, they urged CMS “to work with Congress to ensure the program is not negatively impacting hospitals that service dually-eligible beneficiaries.” The signers note their support for the Establishing Beneficiary Equity in the Hospital Readmission Program Act (H.R. 4188), AHA-backed legislation that would require the program to account for dual-eligible beneficiaries and exclude certain readmissions to ensure hospitals are not unfairly penalized for treating the most vulnerable patients.